New York marathon goes on despite devastation
NEW YORK (AFP) –
With devastation from Hurricane Sandy as a backdrop, the 43rd New York Marathon will be contested on Sunday and Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed it will happen without draining resources from victims.
“This city is a city where we have to go on,” Bloomberg said Thursday. “The marathon is not going to redirect any focus.”
Bloomberg said electricity and transportation are being restored in time to ease the pressure upon city police ahead of the race.
Race organizers said they will pay private contractors to handle some duties to reduce the burden on civic resources and that the course will remain the same as in recent years because Sandy caused little damage along the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route.
“To us, the marathon really epitomizes the spirit of New York City, the vitality, the tenacity, the determination of New Yorkers,” New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg said.
“Now, our every effort is to once again tell the world that New York City, as the mayor would say, is open for business, and we welcome the support of the world at this trying time.”
Flooding and destruction in the wake of the killer superstorm that made landfall in nearby New Jersey on Monday have kept firefighters, sanitation and emergency workers busy but those people would never deal with the marathon.
“There’s lots of people that have come here. It’s a great event for New York,” Bloomberg said.
“For those who were lost, you’ve got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind.”
The event brings the city an annual boost of $340 million with racers and spectators from around the world and this year’s world-class lineup of racers is no exception.
Kenyans Wilson Kipsang, third at the London Olympics, and Moses Mosop, last year’s Chicago Marathon champion, are favored in the men’s race, which also features 2010 New York Marathon winner Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia.
Reigning world champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, London Olympic marathon winner Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia and Olympic bronze medalist Tatyana Arkhipova of Russia are favored in the women’s race.
Ethiopia’s Firehiwot Dado, who won her first major marathon crown last year in New York, will not defend her title after being unable to train due to a heel blister. She was fourth at this year’s Boston Marathon in 2:34:56.
Organizers expect about 45,000 runners and said they have received no more last-week cancellations than normal. Airport service resumed Thursday to boost the chances many out-of-town runners can make it for the race.
Ferries and buses will be used to transport runners to the starting line on Staten Island with usual transportation options reduced because of the storm.
New York Marathon organizers have donated $1 million to aid relief efforts and race sponsors have pledged more than $1.5 million to the cause.